On the second track of Kanye West’s seventh album, The Life of Pablo, after the opening sample, a tag rings out: “If young Metro don’t trust you I’m gon’ shoot you...” Those ten words, contagiously delivered by rapper— and former Flaunt cover star—Future, have since been endlessly memed into pop culture immortality, often accompanying Vine or Instagram clips. The tag [a sample that is used to identify a song’s producer] is 22-year- old Metro Boomin’s calling card.
For Metro Boomin, aka Leland Tyler Wayne, the viral phenomenon added yet another layer to his fame. In the last two years he executive produced Drake and Future’s #1 commercial effort, What A Time To Be Alive, as well as Future’s mixtapes Monster, DS2, and Purple Reign. His credits are gilded with nearly every current rap star and many respected underground artists.
Oftentimes, a hip-hop producer rises to popularity using a distinctive sound—but Metro—originally from St. Louis but now residing in Atlanta— admits that he can’t really identify his sound. “I can’t even say there is one,” he tells me. “I’ve always enjoyed making beats all over the place.”
So how did a young producer without a signature sound, in the oversaturated Atlanta market, acquire the rare “executive producer” title? He explains his value through his work on “3500” by Travi$ Scott: “That’s a song we worked on for a minute. We had just gotten the Future verse, and it was still hard; I felt like something was missing. So at the last minute, I called Zaytoven [another Atlanta producer working on the song] to play over the track, and he played a whole bunch of different instruments. Then I took all the sounds he had, and arranged them along the whole song.”
Metro is needed in the studio as a real-time arranger, composer, and con dante. “A lot of times, an executive producer is who put the money up, but I’m overseeing a lot of things: making sure we choose the right songs, the right sequence, and that the songs sound like the best that we can make,” he explained. “I always mix and work alongside the engineer.”
Metro, along with strip club deejay, DJ Esco, formed the Future braintrust that orchestrated one of the most remarkable comebacks in modern hip- hop. After the lukewarm reception of 2014’s Honest, Future rode a string of six championship mixtapes, four executive produced by Metro Boomin, back to the top—each one a different expedition into sound and strategy. “I remember Future had shown me the cover one day, and he was talking about putting ‘Executive Produced by Metro Boomin’ on the front, and I just told him, ‘Yo, let me do this,’” Metro says.
“We really wanted just a lot of edgy street music for Monster,” he said. “No pop shit.” They crowned the next two mixtapes, Beast Mode and 56 Nights, with Summer 2015’s DS2. “The whole DS2 game plan was similar,” Metro said of the chart-topping project. “Normally with albums, people are thinking about singles, sales, and charts, so it was not thinking about any of that. We just made an album strictly for the streets. No industry politics.” And on 2016’s Purple Reign: “From a production standpoint, it was creating that woozy-high vibe, but also choosing the right songs and sequence.”
The aforementioned tag on West’s album asserts the fundamental importance of Metro’s trust, but Metro’s credits reveal a vast reciprocation of that trust. Metro, in a genre dominated by alpha-male egos stands out as self- effacing. “I don’t want to take credit for other people’s work,” he demurres. “I’m not really that type of person... it’s just the way that my mom has always raised me, to be humble and just be a stand-up person.”
What makes Metro stand out among his peers is that he has the personality, chops, and vision to work as a true musical partner with his collaborators. “It’s easy to work with Future and Young Thug because they trust my judgment on the music,” he said. “They know that whatever I’m thinking is what they’re gonna want.”